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Favorite Foodie Kids Books

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Favorite Foodie Kids Books

Long before my cookbook collection grew to the size it is today, my room was still full of books – kids books, since we’re jumping back in time. Most of these books have long been moved to boxes, packed up and in storage out of the way, but the other day I was going through them and noticed something about some of my favorites: many were food related! Now, I would read anything and everything (and still do), so it struck me as funny when I realized that I instantly remembered these books and every detail of their storylines. An indicator of things to come, perhaps? These are some of my favorites, all of which have been relocated to the shelf with my cookbooks.

  • Stone Soup – This book is about some traveling soldiers who wander into a small village as tired, hungry strangers. The townspeople are less than friendly, but when the soldier start cooking up some mysterious sounding stone soup – soup made with nothing more than rocks and water – their interest is piqued. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it involves a feast and a lot more food than rocks and water.
  • In the Night Kitchen – I love this Maurice Sendak book. It’s about a boy named Mickey who goes to bed and ends up in the Night Kitchen – and getting baked into a cake by three jolly-looking bakers before using some just-risen bread dough to fashion an airplane and make his escape. Pure fantasy, but I adore the textures of the doughs and breads in the book. It never failed to make me want a cookie. The book was also made into an animated short at one point, which is also worth taking a peek at.
  • Bread and Jam for Francis – This is a great book to read to kids who are picky eaters. It’s about a little girl named Francis who loves bread and jam – and nothing else. Her mother gives in and feeds her only bread and jam – all the time, at all meals – and nothing else. It’s a kids book with a lesson, but it’s cute enough that kids won’t be bored by it. And you can finish off the book with some toast and jam of your own.
  • Strega Nona – How could you not love Strega Nona? The book is about a little old Italian woman who is kind of like the grandmother/healer to her town. She uses a bit of magic, including a fork that produces spaghetti out of thin air. Her helper, Big Anthony, gets into her things when she goes out of town and decides to give the fork a try himself – and ends up filling the town with pasta. Like any good grandmother, Strega Nona doesn’ t get mad. She just teaches him a lesson by letting him put the fork to good use (in a nonmagical capacity) to clean up the mess he made.

What are your favorite foodie kids books?

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  • Erica (in NC)
    July 17, 2008

    If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a charming, darling book my kids loved (and I really enjoyed reading to them) about a little boy and his efforts to nurture a little mouse.

  • AmyS
    July 17, 2008

    Oh dear, where to start!

    *Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
    *If You Give a Pig a Pancake (by the author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie)
    *Pancake, Pancake by Erich Carle

    and so many more!

  • Betsy
    July 17, 2008

    As a foodie and an elementary school teacher, I delight in reading books about food to my students.

    These are three of my favorites:

    *Watch Out for the Chicken Feet in you Soup by Tomie De Paola
    *How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
    *Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables by Lois Ehlert

  • Barbara
    July 17, 2008

    Don’t miss ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ by Judi Barrett. Life is delicious in the town of Chewandswallow.

  • Meredith
    July 17, 2008

    My favorite book as a kid was Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. I think it was my father’s favorite book to read to me. There’s a follow up too, but I can’t remember the name. I did love Strega Nona to though. I’d forgotten about Stone Soup, too, but I had it as a child as well.

  • Pumpkin
    July 17, 2008

    Actually, I had all these books as a kid! I also had a book of poetry, and my favorite poem was about some children named “The Goops” who had terrible table manners- I remember it started “The Goops, they lick their fingers/ And the Goops, they lick their knives/ They spill their broth on the tablecloth/ They lead disgusting lives…”

  • Heather
    July 17, 2008

    We love, love, love Possum’s Honey Bread at our house. My 5-year old boy loves to make the honey bread as we follow along in the book. Great book for little ones.

  • Karyn
    July 17, 2008

    My daughter always liked books that included a recipe that she could make. Some of her favorites (mine too!) that haven’t been mentioned yet:
    Thundercake by Patricia Poacco (with a cake recipe with a secret ingredient)
    Fannie in the Kitchen by Deborah Hopkinson(with a yummy pancake recipe)
    The High Rise Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Sky Pie Angel Food Cake by Nancy Willard and Richard Jesse Watson (with an angel food cake recipe – this is an all-time family favorite book)
    Cranberry Thanksgiving and others in that series by Wende and Harry Devlin

    I LOVE food-themed kids books!

  • eiluj
    July 17, 2008

    Zerelda’s Ogre was a favourite of mine.

  • Kel
    July 17, 2008

    Mine was called “Nothing but Soup,” about a kid named Q. Leonard Faroop who ate nothing but, nothing but, nothing but soup. Cute book. Helped that the character and I have similar eating habits…

  • cyndy
    July 17, 2008

    Oh, my. The foodie in us is obvious from the wee ages, huh? I loved and still love the books you posted. My favorites were Green Eggs and Ham, Chicken Soup with Rice, and this book I adored and is no longer in print, Cheese, Peas, and Chocolate Pudding!

  • lekkercraft
    July 17, 2008

    I had “Bring in the Pumpkins” which is all about harvesting and fall. Also, the Laura Ingalls Wilder series had great descriptions of food – there was even a cookbook published based on the recipes she describes.

  • PaniniKathy
    July 17, 2008

    So glad to see Strega Nona and BAJFF on the list – those were always my two faves. In fact, I think I’ll order them for my daughter right now! She’ll eat the pages – how appropos…

  • Elisabeth
    July 17, 2008

    What a fun post! I teach a cooking class with the preschoolers at my center. We read a story every month and then do a cooking project to go along with it. Last month, we read The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood, and then had strawberries and whipped cream. This month, we read I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child and made bruschetta. I love In the Night Kitchen, too. 🙂

  • Megan
    July 17, 2008

    I wore through a copy of Chicken Soup with Rice when I was a kid. I bought a copy a couple years back for memories sake, and I still love it.

    Tomie De Paola was one of my favorite authors as well, so his books make the list.

  • Annie
    July 17, 2008

    Add me to the list of Chicken Soup with Rice lovers. Another favorite of mine that no one’s mentioned was Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey.

  • Gina
    July 17, 2008

    Oh, how about Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon by Wende Devlin? The accompanying recipe for Old Witch’s Magic Nut Cake (=pumpkin cake) is excellent! In fact, I blogged about it last fall…


  • miriam
    July 17, 2008

    i’ve always loved this one book about a town that makes a giant jam sandwich (aptly titled, the giant jam sandwich), but “the seven silly eaters” by mary ann hoberman takes the cake.

  • elizabeth
    July 18, 2008

    Well everything I immediately thought of has already been listed– The Giant Jam Sandwich, Thundercake (I definitely made that cake at some point, too!), and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. I’d also like to make note of Gregory the Terrible Eater, though it’s not necessarily all that appetizing. And I didn’t discover it until recently, but How My Parents Learned to Eat is fabulous as well.

    Thanks for the fun topic!

  • herschel
    July 18, 2008

    “the very hungry caterpillar” by eric carle is great! i think that book is what got me started into reading great food writing.

  • srah
    July 18, 2008

    For older kids (beyond picture book age), Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy is great.

    I once did a whole blog post on food in children’s books: http://jamelah.net/blog1/2008/03/18/grape-mrs-carillon-and-grape-you/

  • Nancy
    July 18, 2008

    Another Tomie dePaola–this one wordless, so great for really little kids–is Pancakes for Breakfast. I’m probably dating myself here, but a favorite from my own childhood was Snip Snap Snur and the Buttered Bread–not exactly a cookbook, but a great one for teaching kids about where food (in this case, butter) comes from.

  • Laura
    July 18, 2008

    Oh, everything that everyone has mentioned are my favorites, too! I love love LOVE kid’s books and these are some of the best. The Very Hungry Caterpillar always made me want to go eat some cheese and sausage – he made the food look so colorful! How My Parents Learned to Eat, Strega Nona… they’re all great.
    My brother’s favorite book (read over and over to him, of course) was “Soup for the King” – my dad always read it to him and quotes from it to this day. It’s about a king who is searching for the BEST soup in the land and finally finds it in… welll, you’ll have to read the book. 😉

  • Martha
    July 18, 2008

    Here are some of my favorites that haven’t been mentioned:
    Everybody Eats Rice (in which it’s time for dinner and a little girl has to go find her brother and in looking for him visits everyone in her neighborhood and learns that everyone, across many ethnic lines, eats rice)
    How Pizza Came to Queens (about an Italian aunt visiting her American relatives and teaching them about pizza– great pictures) by Dayal Kaur Khalsa
    Popcorn, by Frank Asch
    These are all wonderful, wonderful books (as are all the other ones listed here) and totally worth re/reading.

  • breadchick
    July 18, 2008

    My 1st grade class made Stone Soup WAY BACK in the dark ages when they actually allowed kids to be kids in grade school and do fun things like cook while learning about the food groups.

    I love that book and credit it partly with me becoming so interested in cooking. Well that and the Olive Green easy bake oven!

  • elizabeth
    July 18, 2008

    Ooh! I’ve just thought of more. If you want gorgeous illustrations of food, check out Heckedy Peg (food plays prominently in the plot as well, but the pictures are lovely). And for older readers– I always thought the Redwall books had the best descriptions of feasts. I always came away from those chapters hungry.

  • Emiline
    July 19, 2008

    This is so interesting!

    I used to love children’s books with food in them, as well.
    Stone Soup was good-
    There were lots of Berenstain Bear books with food in them-
    I remember a lot of books with pancakes in them-
    Did you ever read the book where the tigers run around the tree and turn into butter? Mmm…tiger butter.

  • Sarah
    July 19, 2008

    As a Kindergarten teacher, this past year I did alot with Patricia Polacco’s Thunder Cake. My kids loved the story, which teaches all about thunderstorms, plus you get a great lesson in cake baking. I saw someone mention a secret recipe in one of the previous posts. Yes, Patricia Polacco’s grandmother’s recipe includes pureed tomatoes, which may sound strange, but end up giving the cake a nice sweetness, plus, it makes the chocolate batter have a red tint. The book includes the author’s family recipe, which I used to make Thunder Cake cupcakes for my kids. They were a big hit!

  • montessa
    July 21, 2008

    Stone Soup! You just took me down memory lane, I loved that book as a child and attempted to make my own stone soup. Alas, not a good outcome, but I think it helped fuel the cooking bug! Thanks for the reminder of such a great book.

  • Robert
    February 13, 2009

    I have the recipe from the Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon book, and its great, but I was also wondering, has anyone collected any of the recipes from Wende and Harry Devlins Cranberryport books? I have them all except for Cranberry Easter, Autumn, & Summer. Does anyone have them?

  • Robert
    March 12, 2009

    I was able to get the reipe “Cranberry Easter & Autumn”, but I still need the Cranberry Punch recipe from “Cranberry Summer”. Help, anybody?

  • Elizabeth
    August 30, 2009

    Karyn and Robert, thanks for the reminder. I still have my copy of Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin, complete with splatters from making its featured recipe, Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread, each Thanksgiving. Now that I bake so much with my son, I’ll have to make it with him for the holiday this year. I’ll also have to see if I can get my hands on the authors’ other books.

  • Jane
    October 1, 2009

    I’m sure my kids (and I) will love these books!

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